A/N: To the guest who said they hope Spock stole another pair of Jim's underwear…..I see you. I see you and I would like to inform you of my great amusement at the comment. Thank you for the chuckle and the immense regret that I did not add that into the chapter.
So I had a dream the other night that I was sitting at a yogurt bar and then Jim and Bones came in and sat next to me. Bones got a smoothie and Jim got nachos (yes, I know, nachos at a yogurt bar) and then he asked me if I wanted to share his nachos and even though they were spicy nachos and I don't eat spicy stuff, I said yes because COME ON WOULD YOU HAVE SAID NO. Then I saw that Jim had a post-it note stuck in his hair and Bones noticed that I saw and he went, "shh, don't tell him," so naturally I ripped it off and then tried to put it back on but it wasn't sticky anymore. And then I woke up before the nachos came and I was so mad because I didn't get to share them with Jim.
So that was my fantastic adventure.
Moving on, now. I had to rewatch this scene so many time ughhhh sobbbbbbbb, but then ended up deciding that I didn't want to rehash the actual conversation they had because I think that speaks for itself in sheer amount of upset and feels, so I pinpointed more of the before and the after in this chapter.
He wondered if it was possible to dream without being asleep.
It was a bit like that, dying. The fire was there, and sometimes it burned and scorched and clawed at his heart, other times it was distant….he could almost forget it was even there. There was an aspect to the surreal in his blurring vision, like some sort of nightmarish monochrome landscape. His heart was a faltering, stumbling thing in his chest, slow and ponderous and more reluctant to pulse with every second.
The cough that spluttered from his lips sounded altogether too wet, a heavy coppery taste coating his tongue. That can't be good.
He had nothing left to give, nothing to leave behind, nothing but a broken legacy and a promise that he would never keep. A challenge from a dead man that he could never begin to live up to. Nobody would remember him as he was, the shattered, twisted soul who didn't know how to cry and had only learned in the arms of a Vulcan. The irony didn't escape him.
Spock was all he had left, really. The proof of his existence. The only one in all the worlds who had seen him as he was in all of his broken glory and had remained with him nevertheless. He had stayed when Jim had asked, and that meant more to him than he ever wanted to admit.
Where are you?
He staggered forward another step and swayed unsteadily, catching himself heavily against the wall. The steel was hot and burned through his shirt, but he was already on fire and what was one more added agony?
He could feel the radiation taking root within him, a paralyzing ache settling deep in his bones.
Would anyone cry for him?
He was panting now, sweat dripping down his neck, trickling down the back of his shirt. His heartbeat pounded deep and loud in his ears. It consumed him, he was audience to its existence, held prisoner by its rhythm. He clung on to the sound even as he flinched away. He was drowning in his own blood, the burning poison scorching him dry from the inside out.
Scotty's face swimming through the glass door, panic in his voice as he shouted. Jim squinted through hazy eyes, trying to focus.
His legs finally gave out and he fell hard on his knees. It was a distant pain, a grunt slipping out between dry and cracking lips.
"Captain! Oh God-"
"Spock," he croaked, dragging himself forward shakily.
"Get….Spock." Before it was too late. His vision was fading, black prickling at the edges. He was so scared, so damn scared of what lay beyond his sight, what hovered just past the fringes of existence. He was so close to the edge, he could fall at any second and he had never liked the sensation of falling….
He wasn't ready for this; nobody had told him what it would be like, knowing death was right around the corner but not knowing how many steps were left.
He wasn't sure how long time passed before he reached the door and collapsed beside it, gasping for breath. His hands and feet had gone cold, a pervasive numbness creeping through his limbs. But then he was here. Spock.
Jim could see his pale face on the other side of the glass, dark eyes fixed on him. He mustered up his strength to reach up and close the hatch behind him as Spock knelt down. If he tried, he could pretend that the glass wasn't there. He had always been good at fooling himself.
"How's the ship?" he rasped, raising his eyes to Spock's, and then it was the beginning of the end.
Death was a cold place.
Spock watched the sleeping human in the biobed, his chest rising and falling gently with the swells of his breaths. Jim looked too small in the white sheets, his skin ashen compared to its normal healthy hue. Spock remembered racing to the medbay as soon as he had returned with the apprehended Khan, his heart stuttering to a stop at the sight of Jim encased in his coffin of ice.
McCoy had had to forcibly remove him from the medbay so the transfusion could begin. He had not been proud of his lapse in rationale, and he still regretted it now. His delay might have cost precious seconds that Jim needed, and for that he would never forgive himself.
He reached out and carefully gathered Jim's hand into both of his. It was an intimate gesture he would normally balk at initiating, but there was no room for societal conventions in his brimming heart as he lowered his head to Jim's bedside, leaning his forehead against the back of that too-cold hand.
Surely life could not be this cruel, to have him find the most important thing in his entire existence only to take it away moments later. Surely he could not be expected to live the rest of his life without Jim at his side.
He would be content to stand by him and nothing more. He would ask for nothing, if he could only see Jim smile once more. Death did not suit a man so large, so strong, so fragile, everything Jim was embodied life at its fullest. This was wrong, seeing him like this, hovering on the edge of life and death and belonging to neither. But no, that was also in error, for Jim belonged on the side where Spock was. All they had was each other; they had seen each other at their worst and neither had pushed the other away. Spock did not put much stock in fate, but it was no coincidence that the two of them had ever met in the first place.
But if it was meant to be, then why was this happening now?
There were some things that logic could not explain, and Spock realized this now bitterly as he closed his eyes and pressed his lips to Jim's knuckles in silent supplication.
Do not take him away.
There was a light touch at his shoulder, and for a wild moment Spock fully believed that it was Jim. He straightened abruptly, twisting around-
"You look terrible," McCoy said bluntly, pulling up a chair and sitting uninvited beside Spock.
Spock slowly released Jim's hand, realizing how it must look to the doctor, and placed his own hands stiffly in his lap.
"You need sleep," McCoy continued critically. He tugged at the cuffs of his white uniform absently as he spoke. "It's been a week, Spock." When Spock did not answer, the doctor tutted impatiently. "Do you think he'd want you mooning about like this?! I'll call the damn security if I have to-"
"A week," Spock said, his voice low. It had been a week, and Jim had not awoken. Surely that had to mean something had gone wrong with the transfusion, that even though his heart was beating, Jim would never wake again. Never smile or cry or tell Spock about his mother. He knew so little of the man, and yet he felt like he knew everything about him.
Was this what love was? He could not pretend to know, but he had never wanted to know more of someone like this before. Nyota had been a friend, a comforter, an ally, soft and sweet and unbending. Jim, too, was a friend, and yet he was more than Nyota had ever been to him. He was the sun in all of its blazing glory, brighter and braver and stronger and more. Spock had thought him arrogant and emotional once; now he knew the man to be more secretive than he had ever suspected, hiding away his own grief and regret with all the stolid resolution of a Vulcan. He longed to break those walls, to delve so deeply into Jim that he would wonder how he had ever been content as a separate being, to know him and be known-
"A week," McCoy confirmed, and sighed. "Look, I'll watch him, all right? Go get some rest."
Spock turned his head slowly to look at him. He was aware of his ragged condition, of the rough stubble darkening his jaw and the gnawing knot of hunger deep in his belly. There was work to be done elsewhere, matters to resolve, responsibilities to take on in place of Jim. But something had kept him at Jim's bedside, silently agonizing while the monitor gently beeped and the oxygen mask over his face hissed mechanically.
"You will alert me when..."
"Yes, of course," McCoy answered instantly. "You'll be the first to know."
Spock nodded, looking back at Jim once more. Something in his silence must have alerted McCoy to his reluctance, as the doctor then grunted and stood. "I'll give you a moment." Spock hardly noticed his retreating footsteps.
"I will need to leave now," he told Jim quietly. His voice felt rusty and harsh with disuse over the past seven days, and he cleared his throat self-consciously. "But I will return."
The heart monitor beeped steadily in the silence.
"I will return," Spock repeated, feeling suddenly very uncertain of himself. He leaned forward without thinking, reaching out unsteadily and gripping Jim's hand once more tightly. It was a parting and a promise, and perhaps a prayer. "So you must come back." He swallowed audibly and withdrew, gathering the frayed ends of his emotions and bundling them together tightly in an act of self-preservation.
He would return to Jim's side, yes, and there he would stay.
For better or worse.
A/N: Okay, I know you guys wanted this to be a long "official" fic but it was never really intended to be a standalone thing since it was meant to be "behind the scenes" kind of thing for Into Darkness (which is why it seems to jump over a lot of stuff), which means that it's swiftly winding down to a close now. There's going to be one or two more chapter after this, but guess what….I'm officially doing the Arizona thing now as a kind of uber long deleted film scenes kind of thing in which they go on a merry desert UST-ing adventure and there are cute things like having to sharing T-shirts and pink motorcycle helmets (wink).